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postheadericon Baby Blues at MoonCat Farms

I’m sure the title of this post had you thinking of something else.  Never fear, we aren’t pregnant and we aren’t blue at all around here, but our new babies are!

Welcome to our first hatch of the year (from Monday).  24 eggs went into the incubator and exactly 21 days later, these pretty babies made their way into the big wide world outside their shells.  I’m especially happy with these 17 hatchlings because they are the first chicks from my young breeding birds.
In the first week of incubation, 4 eggs were found to not be fertile while 1 started and died.  The other 19 eggs went the full three weeks.  2 eggs didn’t hatch for unknown reasons, but 17 did and 17 out of 24 is still very good.  The fertility and hatch rate should both improve as the breeders get a little older ~ and more experienced 🙂
The fuzzier chicks are Giant Blue Cochins with the others being my Blue Andalusians.  As you can see in the photo, there are some differently colored birds in the brooder.  Most birds that carry the common blue or “Andalusian” gene have the possibility of producing Blue, Black or Splash chicks. I am pleased with the group of mostly blue babies:  10 blue (5 Cochins/5 Andalusians), 5 black (3 Cochins/2 Andalusians) and 2 Splash Cochins.  Splash chicks will be a whitish based bird with blue or black “splashes” of color.  More about the blue genes later.
More photos and blathering on about my birds to come soon!

postheadericon Chasing Chickens

Well, it’s been so long since I’ve posted that I pretty much had to learn how to do it all over again!  Life has kept us very busy here at MoonCat Farms since I last checked in many moons ago.  There’s too much to cover in one post so I’ll just start fresh with one of my favorite and frankly, most time-consuming interests. My chooks…

Mr. MoonCat’s parents call them their “grands”.  When they come up for a visit, they enjoy helping me with the little feathered fiends.  In fact we’re looking forward to a visit next month when I will be enlisting their help in vaccinating the flock and accomplishing a few other chores that seem to need a few willing extra hands.  Plus, we just have fun playing with the birds and spending time outside.  The chickens reward their “grands” by sending them back to Arizona with a bunch of beautiful farm fresh eggs!

 

Rudy Roo – Barred Plymouth Rock

Rudy Roo is called a Barred Plymouth Rock or just a Barred Rock.  He runs with my laying flock of mostly Rhode Island Red hens and a few girls of questionable parentage.  He’s a very gentle bird that takes great care of his girls and is pleasant for us to be around.  (His neck shouldn’t look all fuzzy like that, he’s been sticking his head through the fence to reach the rosebush and messed up his feathers. I will be putting up more chicken wire soon, as Mr. MoonCat accused me of trying to strangle poor Rudy!)

 

“I’ll Be Back…”   Iowa Blue hen

This little gal giving us all the stink-eye is an Iowa Blue hen.  She’s a smallish bird that lays a small creamy colored egg.  They are a personable breed that is enjoyable to be around and as you can tell by the up close and personal photo, very nosy!  (BTW, they aren’t blue..just those Iowa people coming up with a name for their birds… 🙂

 

Boo – Blue Andalusian rooster

This pretty guy is one of my favorite boys here at MoonCat Farms.  He is Boo, a Blue Andalusian rooster which comes from Andalusia, Spain.  Blue Andalusians actually show up in three color variations:  Blue, Black and Splash.  They are all the same bird, they just carry the blue gene differently.  I will do a post on each of the breeds I am raising and go a little more into the colors then.

 

The fluffy butts in the photo above belong to my lovely Giant Blue Cochins.  That is one of the two roosters with his head up while the others were pigging out on a pumpkin. They lay medium-sized brown eggs, but not in large quantities.  In spite of this and in all honesty, because they are so darn cute, they came to MoonCat Farms with a purpose – to sit on and hatch the eggs of the Blue Andalusians.  Andalusians are notorious for NOT sitting on their own eggs while Cochins are notorious for being broody and wanting to spend their time raising chicks – instead of laying eggs!  It’s a perfect match :)If you haven’t noticed yet, I have a bit of a theme with the BLUE chickens.  This has become quite the endeavor and I am truly hooked on my birds.  I look forward to sharing more about this journey with you.

 

postheadericon Ernestina Hemingway – Our Polydactyl Cat

Just a quick post to introduce you to the baby of the house.  “Ernie” is a polydactyl cat with extra toes on each of her paws.  She actually has little “thumbs” on her front feet which makes her two times the menace of  the other cats ~ she can open drawers and latches like a person!  I’m baby-proofing several cabinets now.  I did try to get a better photo of her feet, but she kept swatting at me so I’ll wait until the monster is asleep for that.  You can see a bit of her thumb in the second photo.

 

As for her name, it obviously stems from a beloved and well-known figure in American history.  What isn’t quite as well known is that the Nobel prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway had a his house full of these “abnormal” polydactyl cats.  In fact, even decades after his death his home in Florida is still a haven for the descendants of his original six-toed cat that he received as a gift from a ship’s captain.

These type of cats are said to be much more common on the East Coast than here in the West.  I personally hadn’t come across one until we adopted Ernie after someone dumped her at our non-pet friends’ house.  At the time we had a hard time telling if she was indeed a girl, so I called her Ernie and Mr. MoonCat was calling her “Hemi”.  Got a little confusing since we already have a “Hammy” in the house.

postheadericon Some Chick Pix and a SURPRISE!

I haven’t updated everyone on the girls (and Big Red) in a while so I thought I’d share a few photos from one of the VERY few days of no rain lately.


The hen’s eye view

 

Big Red fascinated by a bit of straw



The death of a straw bale

So, are you ready for a surprise?  We weren’t!  Look….


Aren’t they pretty?

We really didn’t expect the girls to start laying until March or April at the earliest.  I think they’re confused as they aren’t supposed to lay during the very short days of winter.  Given that they’re also only 5 months old, we were amazed to find these beauties in the coop!  My babies are growing up so fast…

postheadericon An Outstanding Last Minute Gift Idea for Readers

If you have readers in your house, undoubtedly books or bookstore giftcards are always favored presents.  I have always loved getting books that someone has specifically chosen for me based on my likes and interests or because they loved a story and wanted to share it with me. 

I wasn’t paid to gush, I am not trying to sell you anything or win a contest, I just flat out LOVED THIS BOOK!  I know there are many horse lovers and parents of young horsepeople that follow this blog and I merely wanted to give all of you a hint for a fantastic gift:

Eclipsed by Shadow
I am not going to get into all of the details because a simple click HERE will take you to my wordy and drool-covered review at my book blog, One Book Shy of a Full Shelf.  I almost never rate books a “5 out of 5”, but this book could have gone 10 out of 5 for me very easily.  It is extremely well written by a knowledgeable horseman and has already been compared to the Harry Potter series for the adventure and fantasy.  It’s one of those books that will pretty much appeal to everyone, whether they love horses or not.  Let me know what you think..

postheadericon Ho Hum Holidays

*This is a very negative post that I have a need to write.  You can stop reading it at any time if you choose. 

I usually enjoy the holiday season immensely.  I love to bake and make things for my friends and loved ones, find the perfect presents, and just flat out enjoy myself decorating.

This year I’m finding it really hard to get into the spirit.  We haven’t decorated or even got a tree yet.  While I embrace the “reason for the season”, I just can’t find it in myself to be jolly and happy.  A large part of my heart is missing and I’m not sure if it’ll ever heal.

Losing Mom, while expected, has been devastating to me.  She always tried to make the holidays special for all of us and enjoyed them a lot.  It is getting tougher for me as everyone is getting giddier (is that a word?) while I’m feeling more melancholy as the days go on.  Many days I’d like to just stay in bed and pull the covers over my head. 

I’m trying to not pull everyone else down in my funk with me, but I miss her and I won’t apologize for that.  It seems like people only want to give you a set amount of time to grieve and then you’re supposed to “get on with and over it”.  She was my Mom and closest friend, you heartless *******.   (Sorry, but I’m hoping that some of the individuals with this attitude will read this and get the message and let me feel what I need to feel.)

To add to this pain, about a month ago we also lost a much beloved lady who was like another mother to Mr. MoonCat and me.  She was our brother-in-law Chris’s mom and a really neat woman.  Nea was wonderful to us and her unexpected death was another sucker punch to all of us.  She and Mom have left major holes in my and Chris’s lives, among others.

While at Nea’s memorial, our truck decided to break down – 2 hours from home.  Ford is refusing to honor the warranty and the service they performed on it – which didn’t fix the problem.  We have already had to shell out $1100 for the first failed attempt at repair with another $1400 (which we don’t have) now being demanded before we can get it out of the shop.  We’ve had to shell out almost $700 in rental car fees because we were stuck and had to get home as well as having no vehicle for our trip.  I’m feeling a major hate for Ford Motor Company right now.  (I already wrote in a previous post about the wreck that occurred while in the tiny little rental car – yet another BAD THING.)

Topping all of this off, we’ve lost 5 of our dear little chickens in the last two weeks.  As far as we can determine, they contracted chicken pox.  Yes, they get their own disease and the remaining flock has been vaccinated.  So I’m missing my little friends as well as dealing with all of the other blows we’ve been smashed with lately. 

This has been an excessively rough year around here and it doesn’t seem to be letting up. I’m thankful for what and who I do have, but dang it universe – let up on me!  I sure hope 2011 will be a better year for all of us.

Thank you for letting me rant and share, the good and the bad.  I do wish you all very Happy Holidays and I promise to come back soon with some happier animal updates and some pix from our trip to Southern California and Nevada.  We took a lot of photos and I’m slowly getting them sorted out.

postheadericon On Vacation

I’ve been a very bad blogger lately.  I had meant to keep you all updated with timely posts during our much needed and long anticipated vacation, but I have failed ~ yet again! 

So I’m just taking a second to let you know that we’re still kicking and having a lovely time.  I’ll be doing several posts next week to show you what we’ve been up to.  (The chickens have much to report from the home front as well 🙂  Here’s a hint as to where we are, have been, and are going….

 

Til next time…

postheadericon Happy Thanksgiving

I hope our American holiday finds all of you, in whichever part of the world you’re in, well and happy today.

My family has a lot to be thankful for this year.  Even though we are lost without Mom this Thanksgiving, we are so grateful that we were able to get to spend that extra time with her before she passed.  The doctors had only given her a few days or weeks to live when we brought her home in January and we were blessed with eight extra months.

Dad and I are especially happy to be here today as we were involved in a traffic accident on Tuesday evening.  We were in a rental car (my truck was in the shop) driving back to the ranch when a van ran a stop sign and drove directly in front of us.  I stood on the brakes, but had nowhere to go as there was a car to the right of me and a curb on the left.  The fact that it had been raining all day and the roads were wet didn’t help the situation.  The tiny little Ford Fiesta that we were in is no more.  It did what it was supposed to and protected Dad and I by crumpling up around us instead of into us. 

We are both pretty sore and banged up, but are very much alive to tell about it.  The ironic thing is that a few minutes before the wreck we had been discussing how uncomfortable we were in the minuscule little car.  Dad and I both drive big Ford F250 pick-ups and don’t feel especially safe in smaller vehicles.  I was comparing this car to the one Fred Flintstone drove where he could put his foot out to stop it.  Thank you little Fiesta…

BIG (probably politically incorrect – BUT I DON’T CARE) RANT ALERT!  Of course, being that this is California – the driver WHO BROKE THE LAW is unlicensed, had NO ID and is here ILLEGALLY.  The police could only give him a citation and let him leave the scene, with the SIX little kids that he had in the van with him.  THAT I am NOT thankful for.  He almost killed Dad and I and put all those little kids in extreme danger and he just toodles on his merry, LAW IGNORING way.  While we, as law-abiding, tax-paying CITIZENS, have to make arrangements for a now totalled rental car, have to find a ride home, and then take care of all of the LEGALITIES and FINANCIAL ramifications of being in an accident/CRIME VICTIMS – PLUS we both hurt like HELL.  Our state is so messed up, it is scary.  We have no rights or protections.  Sorry about the rant and if it offends you, but these are the facts and it just hit me while I was trying to share how grateful I am that I am also pretty pissed and sore today.



OK, back to the reason for this post.  I truly am thankful for my loving husband, for my family and all of our health.  I am grateful for hubby’s job and that we are well-provided for.  I am grateful that we will be spending this afternoon with my Dad and Mr. MoonCat’s parents who are up visiting for the holiday.  I am thankful that they are all relatively healthy and that we are all together.  I am grateful for all that I have, my family and friends, my most beloved animals and their health, and most definitely, ALL OF YOU.  Please be happy and safe.

And to end on a light note, my chickens would like you all to know that THEY are thankful to live here at MoonCat Farms and that they are not TURKEYS!

postheadericon What I See Wednesday

Here’s a bunch of photos of the chickens.  We’ve added a big red rooster to the flock.  A friend of the family dropped him off at the ranch for Dad.  Only problem was that Dad’s little banty (bantam) roosters were beating up the big guy.  He’s pretty much a gentle giant, poor thing 🙂  He had to learn his place in the flock quickly here too as Stella immediately whooped on him too!  You don’t mess with the alpha hen around here!

Red hen close-up



Big Red and his harem



Playing in the water

 

Bedtime

 

Big Red shows the girls the way



Thelma finds a tidbit

  

My pet

My lap full of chickens

 

Stella gets up close and personal



Big Red’s a beauty
Pretty feathers



postheadericon Another Conquest for Swifty & Cattle Sorting

Mr. MoonCat’s horse Swifty has yet another admirer……

Does this photo make
my nose look BIG?

 

He really is a looooooooong horse

A couple of weeks ago the hubby’s folks stayed a few days with us and we dragged them along to a cattle sorting with us and my Dad.  Mr. MoonCat talked his own Dad into getting up on Swifty for a few photos.  They got along really well and make quite the pair don’t they?  ~Mr. MoonCat took these photos so Swifty can’t blame me for the big nose shot… 🙂

So now I’m thinking we need to get the hubby’s Mom up on Swifty too!  We’ll have to work on that when they come up to see us again at the end of the month…
Here are some other photos from the cattle sorting that day:
Everyone waiting for their turn

 

Mr. MoonCat & Swifty calmly strolling
Moi & Fella not so much

 

The hat’s on backwards….
he must be seriously concentrating

 

Dad and Petey sorting the cattle….fast!

Sorry, no action shots of me this time.  But..I did end up placing 5th out of 102 teams!!  Not bad for a rusty old fat woman and a rather hyper horse 🙂  We had a lot of fun that day surrounded by family, friends, and furry creatures.  Great food finished off an almost perfect day.


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